Largemouth Bass Catch and Release Best Practices – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

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High summertime temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen levels in reservoirs and rivers are tough on largemouth bass. These conditions can stress bass when caught.

The following are a few tips offered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission:

– To minimize stress on fish, land the fish quickly and handle it as little as possible.

– Try not to remove the fish from the water, even when you’re removing the hook from the fish’s mouth.

– Handle the fish as little as possible to help reduce the loss of slime coat.

– Wet your hands before you touch a fish;

– Return the fish quickly to the water if you do not plan to keep it or place it in a livewell

– use a knotless nylon or rubber-coated net instead of a knotted nylon net.

Anglers participating in fishing tournaments can minimize fish mortality by maintaining healthy oxygen and water quality in their livewells. A few ways to do this are:

– Knowing the capacity of the livewell and not exceeding a ratio of more than 1 pound of bass per gallon of water.

– Running a recirculating pump continuously if more than 5 pounds of bass are in the livewell

– Using aerators or oxygen-injection systems to keep the water’s oxygen level above 5 parts per million (ppm)

– Keeping livewell water about 5 degrees below the reservoir or river temperature by adding block ice.

– NCWCR recommends that tournament participants fill their weigh-in bags with livewell water, not reservoir or river water, before putting in their catch. They should put only five fish in a bag, fewer if the fish exceed 4 pounds each. Anglers should limit the amount of time that fish are held in bags to less than 2 minutes.

To help anglers develop catch and release techniques, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently announced the availability of a “Keeping Bass Alive” card. The card provides tips for both recreational and tournament anglers.

The Keeping Bass Alive” card can be downloaded from:

More information on keeping bass alive, including the B.A.S.S.-produced publication, “Keeping Bass Alive: A Guidebook for Tournament Bass Anglers and Organizers,” is available on the Commission’s website,

source: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission